Washington: Pacific County

Pacific County (pop. 20,920) is in the southwestern corner of Washington. It’s the only Pacific County in the U.S.

Willapa Bay, the second-largest estuary on the U.S. Pacific coast, is a major producer of oysters.

San Francisco Bay is larger.

The county seat of Pacific County is the city of South Bend (pop. 1,637).

Pacific County Courthouse (1909)

Comedian and six-time presidential candidate Pat Paulsen (1927-1997) was born in South Bend.

The largest city in Pacific County is Raymond (pop. 2,886). It reached its peak of population (4,260) in 1920.

Raymond Theatre (1928)

Raymond has a collection of more than 200 metal sculptures scattered along its roads and highways.

The project started in 1993.

West of Raymond, the community of Tokeland is the home of the Tokeland Hotel, the oldest resort hotel in Washington. It opened in 1889.

Bathrooms are down the hall.

The Long Beach Peninsula, which encloses Willapa Bay, has 28 miles of continuous sand beaches. The peninsula, popular with visitors from Seattle and Portland, has several state parks.

Cape Disappointment Light in foreground

The resort city of Long Beach is the home of the World Kite Museum and Marsh’s Free Museum, featuringĀ  Jake the Alligator Man.

Made famous in the “Weekly World News”




Washington: Grays Harbor County

Grays Harbor County (pop. 72,797) is south of Jefferson County. It was named for Grays Harbor, the large estuarine bay in the southwestern corner of the county.

Grays Harbor was named for Robert Gray (1755-1806), an American merchant sea captain who pioneered the maritime fur trade in the Northwest and discovered the bay.

He also named the Columbia River.

The county has historically depended on the timber and fishing industries; several of its cities, including Aberdeen and Hoquiam, reached their peak populations in 1930.

Timber crew on the Chehalis River

The county seat of Grays Harbor County is the city of Montesano (pop. 3,976).

Courthouse (1911)

The largest city in the county is Aberdeen (pop. 16,896), located where the Chehalis River empties into Grays Harbor.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), leader of the rock band Nirvana, was born in Aberdeen and dropped out of Aberdeen High School late in his senior year.

A concrete guitar in Aberdeen honors Cobain.

Grays Harbor College is a community college in Aberdeen, founded in 1930. The athletic teams are called the Chokers – an old term for the men who wrestled giant logs out of the nearby forests.

Charlie Choker mascot

The Lady Washington, home-ported in Aberdeen, is a replica of an 18th-century merchant sailing ship. Built in 1989, it has been featured in several movies.

Including the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie

Just west of Aberdeen is the city of Hoquiam (pop. 8,726). Its 7th Street Theatre is an atmospheric theater built in 1928.

Classic movies and concerts

East of Montesano, the Satsop Nuclear Power Plant was built from 1976 to 1983 but never completed, because of a budget shortfall. The twin cooling towers are a local landmark.

The city of Westport (pop. 2,099), at the entrance to Grays Harbor, has one of the largest marinas in the Northwest. The Grays Harbor Light (1898), at 107 feet, is the tallest lighthouse in Washington.

Farther north, the Copalis State Airport is the only airport in Washington where landing on the beach is legal. The runway is 4,500 feet long.

Only available during low tide

A small part of Olympic National Park is in northern Grays Harbor County. The Lake Quinault Lodge is near the park, in Olympic National Forest.

Built in 1927


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Washington: Jefferson County

Jefferson County (pop. 29,872), south of Clallam County, stretches from the Pacific Ocean to Puget Sound, with the Olympic Mountains in the middle. No roads cross directly from the county’s west side to its east side.

It is one of 25 Jefferson Counties (and one Jefferson parish) in the U.S. – all named, directly or indirectly, for President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).

Mount Olympus (elev. 7,980) is the highest point in Olympic National Park. Because of its heavy winter snowfall, it supports several large glaciers – the longest of which is three miles long.

Temperate rainforests in the western part of Olympic National Park have about 150 inches of annual precipitation.

Hoh Rainforest

The county seat of Jefferson County (and its only incorporated city) is Port Townsend (pop. 9,126), on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Jefferson County Courthouse (1891)

The 75-foot Fire Bell Tower in Port Townsend dates from 1890.

It’s been restored several times.

Fort Worden, in Port Townsend, was built in 1897-1900 as an Army base to protect Puget Sound from enemy invasion. No hostile shots were ever fired.

Manresa Castle, originally a 30-room private home built in 1892, is now a hotel and restaurant.

It was also a Jesuit training center for many years.

The Rose Theatre in Port Townsend opened as a vaudeville theater in 1907. It now shows a variety of independent films.

Port Townsend has an annual film festival.

South of Port Townsend is Fat Smitty’s Restaurant, known for its burgers, outdoor decorations, and dollar bills attached to the ceiling and walls.

Many photo opportunities


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Washington: Clallam County

Clallam County (pop.71,404) is south of Vancouver Island, B.C., on the Olympic Peninsula. “Clallam” is a Native American word meaning “strong people.”

Cape Alava, near Ozette Lake, is the westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states; the community of Ozette is the westernmost town.

Cape Alava

The county seat of Clallam County is the city of Port Angeles (pop. 19,038).

Clallam County Courthouse (1914)

Football great John Elway was born in 1960 in Port Angeles, where his father was coaching football at Port Angeles High School.

The family moved away a year later.

The M/V Coho ferry has been going back and forth between Port Angeles and Victoria, B.C., since 1959. The 20-mile trip takes about 90 minutes.

Olympic Mountains in background

Port Angeles is the headquarters of Olympic National Park, which is in four counties (including Clallam).

Hurricane Ridge Road

The city of Sequim (pop. 6,606), in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, receives only about 16 inches of rain a year. (Seattle gets about 37 inches.)

“Sunny Sequim”

Near Sequim, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is the unincorporated community of Dungeness, which gave its name to the Dungeness crab.

The city of Forks (pop.3,532), west of Port Angeles, receives about 119 inches of rain a year. Forks is the setting for Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” books.

The movies were not filmed in Forks.


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Washington: Island County

Island County (pop. 78,506), southeast of San Juan County, is made up entirely of islands. It is Washington’s second-smallest county in land area, and the only Island County in the U.S.

Whidbey Island, 55 miles long and 1-12 miles wide, is Washington’s largest island and the fourth-largest island in the lower 48 states.

At the northern end of Puget Sound

Whidbey Island is accessible by ferry (from Port Townsend and Mukilteo) and via the Deception Pass Bridge, at the north end of the island.

Deception Pass Bridge (1935)

Deception Pass State Park is the most-visited state park in Washington.

The county seat of Island County is the town of Coupeville (pop. 1,831), the second-oldest town in Washington – founded in 1852 by Captain Thomas Coupe.

Downtown Coupeville

The largest city in Island County is Oak Harbor (pop. 22,075).

Windmill in Windjammer Park, Oak Harbor

Oak Harbor has one of Washington’s five remaining drive-in movie theaters.

Blue Fox Drive-In, open all year

Flintstone Park in Oak Harbor has a replica of Fred Flintstone’s rock car.

Ideal for photos

In the southern part of Whidbey Island, the city of Langley is the home of the Clyde Theatre, built in 1937 by Norman and Hazel Clyde and still operated by the same family.

Still showing movies

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is in the northern part of the island. It opened in 1942.


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Washington: San Juan County

San Juan County (pop. 15,769) is Washington’s smallest county in land area. It is composed of the 172 named San Juan Islands, plus many more unnamed ones.

The county was named for the islands, which were named for Juan Vicente de Guemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, who sent an expedition to the area in 1791.

Viceroy of New Spain, 1789-1794

The four largest islands – Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, and Shaw – are served by the Washington State Ferries from Anacortes.

Mount Baker in distance

Friday Harbor (pop. 2,162), on San Juan Island, is the county seat, the commercial center, and the only incorporated city in the county,.

Only about 15 miles by air from Victoria, B.C.

Friday Harbor is the home of the “World’s Skinniest Latte Shop.”

Highly rated on Yelp

Lopez Island, just east of San Juan Island, is flatter and more rural than the other large islands.

Downtown Lopez

On Lopez Island, drivers (and cyclists and pedestrians) traditionally wave at each other at every opportunity.

Spencer Spit State Park is on the east side of Lopez Island.

Popular for camping

Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juans. Mount Constitution (elev. 2,407) is the highest point in the county.

The “Little Red Schoolhouse” on Shaw Island, which serves grades K-8, has been in continuous operation since 1890. A second classroom was added in recent years.


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Washington: Whatcom County

Whatcom County (pop. 201,140) is north of Skagit County and south of British Columbia. Its name was derived from a Native American word meaning “noisy water.”

Whatcom County produces about 75 percent of the nation’s commercial raspberries.

The Northwest Raspberry Festival is in Whatcom County.

Mount Baker (elev. 10,781 feet) is in the eastern part of the county. The Mt. Baker Ski Area had 95 feet of snow in the 1998-99 season.

The most heavily glaciated of Cascade volcanoes.

The county seat of Whatcom County is the city of Bellingham (pop. 80,885), the only city in the lower 48 states that experiences twilight all night during part of the summer.

Flatiron Building (1908)

Western Washington University in Bellingham was founded in 1893 as the New Whatcom Normal School. It has about 15,000 students.

Puget Sound in background

The Mount Baker Theatre (1927) now has a variety of concerts and theatrical performances.

Known locally as the “MBT”

The Whatcom Museum of History and Art is in the former city hall, dating from when Bellingham was called New Whatcom.

Built in 1892

Rocket Donuts in downtown Bellingham has a science-fiction theme and a rocket in the parking lot.

The city of Blaine (pop. 4,831) is on the border with British Columbia. Interstate 5 runs 1,381 miles from Blaine to the Mexican border near San Diego.

The Peace Arch, on the U.S.-Canada border between Blaine and Surrey, B.C., was dedicated in 1921.

In Peace Arch Park

A few miles west of Blaine (by water) is Point Roberts (pop. 1,314), located at the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. To reach Point Roberts by land, one must go 26 miles through Canada.


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Washington: Skagit County

Skagit County (pop. 116,901) is north of Snohomish County. Pronounced “SKAD-jit,” it was named for the Skagit tribe, who have lived in the area for many years.

Skagit County in 1909

The 150-mile Skagit River runs westward through the county, flowing into Puget Sound.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which takes place throughout April, is one of the largest festivals in the Northwest.

In its 32nd year

The county seat of Skagit County is the city of Mount Vernon (pop. 31,243).

Skagit County Courthouse (1924)

The Lincoln Theatre (1926) in Mount Vernon has a mixture of live events and movies.

The theater still has its original Wurlitzer organ.

The Lenning Farms Berry Barn claims to have the largest hedge maze in North America.

More than 2,500 trees

In the city of Burlington (pop. 8,388), just north of Mount Vernon, His Place Community Church has a children’s church building shaped like Noah’s Ark.

Built in 1988

The city of Anacortes (pop. 15,778), on Fidalgo Island, has ferry service to the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and nearby Guemes Island.

Vehicles waiting to board the ferries

The “Lady of the Sea” statue in Anacortes shows a woman and child waiting for the return of their loved ones.

At Cap Sante Marina

East of Mount Vernon is the town of Concrete (pop. 705), which got its name because of the two cement companies in town. A building at Concrete High School (1952) has a road going under it.

There’s a bus-loading area.

Nearby, the unincorporated community of Rockport has a “Self-Kicking Machine” at a service station along State Route 20.


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Washington: Snohomish County

Snohomish County (pop. 713,335), north of King County, is Washington’s third-most-populous county.

From Puget Sound to the Cascades

The highest point in Snohomish County is Glacier PeakĀ  (elev. 10,541), located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

Five eruptions in the past 3,000 years

The county seat of Snohomish County is the city of Everett (pop. 103,019), seventh-largest city in Washington.

Snohomish County Courthouse (1911)

Everett is the western terminus of the 2,571-mile U.S. Route 2. It goes east to St. Ignace, Michigan, where it runs into the Great Lakes; it starts again in Rouses Point, N.Y., and ends in Houlton, Maine.

The northernmost east-west route across the U.S.

Glenn Beck, Kenny Loggins, and Sen. Henry Jackson were all born in Everett. Actor Patrick Duffy was in the Drama Club and Pep Club at Cascade High School in Everett.

On “Dallas”

The Everett Theater (1924) has a variety of concerts, movies, and special events.

The marquee is now gone.

The Boeing Company is the largest employer in Everett. The Boeing Everett Factory is considered the largest building in the world by volume.

747s, 767s, 777s, 787s are assembled there.

South of Everett, in Paine Field Community Park, is a 14-foot-high, flying-saucer sculpture called “Landing Zone.”

Also a shelter from the rain

The community of Maltby, southeast of Everett, has an espresso drive-through in the shape of a tall latte cup.

Farther east, in the community of Sultan, is tiny Wayside Chapel along Highway 2.

Cozy seating for 8

The city of Edmonds (pop. 39,709) is the birthplace (1955) and home of travel writer and TV host Rick Steves.

North of Everett, the community of Arlington is the home of the Outback Kangaroo Farm, which has a variety of animals including alpacas, flying squirrels, peacocks, and wallaroos.

Popular for birthday parties


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Washington: Kitsap County

Kitsap County (pop. 251,133) is across Puget Sound from King County and Seattle. Its population has grown from 101,732 in 1970.

Kitsap County in 1909

The county includes most of the Kitsap Peninsula, as well as Bainbridge Island and Blake Island. It has more than 250 miles of saltwater shoreline.

Ferries serve Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, Southwork, and Kingston.

The county’s largest employer is the U.S. Navy, with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and Naval Base Kitsap.

The shipyard is in Bremerton.

The county seat of Kitsap County is the city of Port Orchard (pop. 11,144).

Dragonfly Cinema, Port Orchard

The largest city in Kitsap County is Bremerton (pop. 37,729), located across Sinclair Inlet from Port Orchard.

The Admiral Theatre in downtown Bremerton opened in 1942. It has a mixture of concerts and movies.

Bill Gates, Sr., was born in Bremerton and graduated from Bremerton High School before attending the University of Washington in Seattle.

Senior at left

The city of Poulsbo (pop. 9,200), north of Bremerton, was settled by many Norwegians and Swedes and has a Scandinavian theme today. The city has a 12-foot Viking statue and an annual Viking Fest.

Welcome to Little Norway.

The community of Port Gamble, a former company town for the Puget Mill Company, has one of the world’s largest collections of seashells at the Of Sea and Shore Museum.

It’s free.


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Washington: King County

King County (pop. 1,931,249) is Washington’s most-populous county and the 14th-most-populous county in the U.S.

The only other King County is in Texas. With a population of 286, it is the second-smallest county in Texas and the third-smallest in the U.S.

King County, Washington, was originally named for Vice President William R. King (1786-1853). In 2005, the county was officially renamed for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

Old logo and new logo

The county seat of King County is Seattle (pop. 608,660), largest city in Washington and 21st-largest city in the U.S.

The Seattle Great Wheel opened in 2012.

The 38-story Smith Tower in Pioneer Square was the tallest building on the West Coast from 1914 until the Space Needle opened in 1962.

It has a public observation deck.

Nearby, in Pioneer Square, is a visitors’ center for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The other units of the park are in Skagway, Alaska; they join with parks in Canada to form the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park.

The Coliseum Theater (1916) was Seattle’s first theater built specifically for movies, and one of America’s first movie palaces. It was renovated as a Banana Republic clothing store in 1995.

It showed movies until 1990.

The Olympic Sculpture Park (2007), an outdoor sculpture museum, is well-known for its giant typewriter eraser.

19 feet tall

Rock musician Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) grew up in Seattle. A bronze statue is in the Capitol Hill area.

Unveiled in 1997

King Street Station (1906), just south of downtown, serves Amtrak’s “Coast Starlight,” “Empire Builder,” and “Cascades” trains, as well as Sounder commuter trains north to Everett and south to Tacoma.

Originally the terminal of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific

The 11-story Seattle Central Library opened in 2004.

Architectural tours are available.

Seattle has an accordian museum, inside the Petosa Accordians shop.

About 100 on display

The Gum Wall is under the popular Pike Place Market. People have been sticking their used chewing gum there for more than 20 years.

50 feet long

In Kenmore (pop. 20,460), just north of Seattle, the Saint Edward Seminary operated from 1931 to 1976. The seminary is now part of Saint Edward State Park.

The building is mostly inaccessible to the public.

The city of Snoqualmie (pop. 10,670) is the home of the Northwest Railway Museum and its five-mile heritage railroad.

The depot


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Washington: Pierce County

Pierce County (pop. 795,225) is Washington’s second-most-populous county. It is one of five Pierce counties, and one of the four named for President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869).

The county stretches from the southern end of Puget Sound to the crest of the Cascades, including Mount Rainier – at 14,411 feet, the tallest mountain in Washington and the highest point in the Cascades.

The county seat of Pierce County is the city of Tacoma (pop. 198,397), third-largest city in Washington.

Museum of Glass, downtown Tacoma

Tacoma’s former Union Station (1911) is now a courthouse for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The rotunda is popular for weddings.

Tacoma is served by Amtrak (north to Seattle and south to Los Angeles), Sounder commuter rail (north to Seattle), and the 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail, which connects the Tacoma Dome with downtown.

Tacoma Dome opened in 1983.

The tradition of standing for “The Star-Spangled Banner” was begun in Tacoma in 1893 by Russell G. O’Brien.

This plaque proves it.

Tacoma’s downtown Theater District includes the Pantages (1918) the Rialto (1918), and the Theater on the Square (1993).

The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra plays at the Rialto.

Bob’s Java Jive, southwest of downtown, serves coffee inside a giant coffee pot.

The building dates from 1927.

Stadium High School, north of downtown, is the home of the Stadium Bowl (1910), which has one of the most spectacular settings of any football field in the country.

The stadium looks out on Commencement Bay.

The Tacoma Rainiers, Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, play at Cheney Stadium (1960).

With a view of Mount Rainier

The 702-acre Point Defiance Park, north of downtown, includes a zoo and an aquarium.

The Japanese Garden

About half of the commercial rhubarb grown in the U.S. comes from Pierce County.

The city of Puyallup (pop. 37,022) is the home of the annual Washington State Fair. Puyallup is pronounced “pew-AW-lup.”

In Mount Rainier National Park, seven comfort stations from the 1930s and ’40s are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunrise Comfort Station (1932)


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Washington: Mason County

Mason County (pop. 60,699), northwest of Thurston County, is one of six Mason counties in the U.S. It was named for Charles H. Mason (1830-1859), first secretary of state of the Washington Territory.

The county includes parts of the Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Park, Hood Canal, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the southwestern corner of Puget Sound.

And views of Mount Rainier to the east

The county seat of Mason County is the city of Shelton (pop. 9,834).

Mason County Courthouse (1929)

Shelton has a long history as a center of Washington’s timber industry.

Simpson Lumber Company mill, Shelton

The Simpson Lumber Company has run its own railroad for about 120 years. It once had several hundred miles of track in the Olympic Peninsula, but it now has only about 10 miles of operational track.

The High Steel Bridge (1929) no longer has trains.

Another attraction in Shelton is a large metal pig – apparently protesting local property taxes.

North of Shelton, the community of Union is known for its views of the Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains.

Union is at the “Great Bend” of the Hood Canal, which is not a man-made canal but a natural fjord on Puget Sound.

“Great Bend” at lower left

Nearby, in the community of Allyn, is George Kenny’s Chainsaw Carving School, featuring “The World’s Largest Display of Chainsaw Carving.”

Three-day group classes are available.


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Washington: Thurston County

Thurston County (pop. 252,264), one of two Thurston counties in the U.S., is north of Lewis County. It was named for Samuel R. Thurston, the Oregon Territory’s first delegate to Congress.

The city of Olympia (pop. 46,478) is both the county seat of Thurston County and the capital of Washington.

Washington State Capitol (1928)

The Old State Capitol, which served as Washington’s capitol building from 1905 to 1928 (and previously as the county courthouse), is now the office of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Known informally as “The Castle”

Capitol Lake is an artificial lake in Olympia, just west of the Capitol.

A postcard from 1965

The Capitol Theater, built in 1924, is now operated by the Olympia Film Society.

Still showing movies

Olympia has an annual Earth Day celebration called The Procession of the Species. The parade has a variety of animal themes and does not allow live pets, motorized vehicles, or words.

It began in 1995.

The Evergreen State College is a public liberal arts college in Olympia. Founded in 1967, it has about 4,500 students.

Cartoonist Matt Groening (center) attended Evergreen.

Just south of Olympia, the city of Tumwater (pop. 17,371) was the longtime home of the Olympic Brewery, along Interstate 5. Brewery operations at the plant ended in 2003.

It was well-known for its tours.

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is southwest of Olympia. Mima mounds are low, circular mounds of undermined origin.

Gophers? Seismic activity? Wind?


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Washington: Lewis County

Lewis County (pop. 75,455) is north of Cowlitz and Skamania counties. It is one of seven Lewis counties, and one of five named for Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Most of the population of Lewis County is in the Interstate 5 corridor, in the western part of the county. The eastern part of the county is in the Cascades, including a portion of Mount Rainier National Park.

The county seat of Lewis County is the city of Chehalis (pronounced “shuh-HAY-lis”), which has a population of 7,259.

Lewis County Courthouse (1927)

The old Northern Pacific Depot (1912) in Chehalis is now the Lewis County Historical Museum.

Mission Revival style

The former St. Helens Hotel (1920) in downtown Chehalis is now the St. Helens Apartments.

On the National Register of Historic Places

On the north side of Chehalis is a “Yard Bird” statue, left over from a well-known local chain of Yard Bird stores that has gone out of business.

Centralia (pop. 16,336), the largest city in Lewis County, is just four miles north of Chehalis. It got its name because of its central location between Seattle and the Columbia River.

Giant pencil on a porch, Centralia

The renovated Fox Theatre (1930) in Centralia hosts classic movies and special events.

The Amtrak station in Centralia is the former Union Depot (1912). It is served by Amtrak’s “Cascades” and “Coast Starlight” trains.

Restored in 2002

In the community of Claquato, west of Chehalis, the Claquato Church (1857) is the oldest standing church building in Washington.

Claquato was briefly the county seat.

The city of Winlock (pop. 1,329), south of Chehalis, is the home of “The World’s Largest Egg” – as reported in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” in 1989. The egg industry has been important in the area.

This one dates from 1991.


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Washington: Wahkiakum County

Wahkiakum (wuk-EYE-uh-kum) County is west of Cowlitz County, along the Columbia River. Its population of 3,978 is second-smallest in Washington, and it is third-smallest in square miles.

The county in 1909

The county was named for Wahkiakum (“Tall Timber”), a 19th-century chief of the Chinook Indians.

The county seat of Wahkiakum County, and the smallest county seat in Washington, is the town of Cathlamet (pop. 532).

Pronounced “kath-LAM-et”

Cathlamet was the site of one of the largest Indian villages on the Columbia River west of the Cascades.

Home of the Kathlamet people

A highway bridge connects Cathlamet to Puget Island, and the Wahkiakum County Ferry connects Puget Island to Westport, Oregon. The ferry holds nine cars and takes about 10 minutes to cross the Columbia.

It’s the last scheduled ferry between Washington and Oregon.

Cathlamet has a Bald Eagle Days celebration every July.

Several movies have been filmed in Cathlamet, includent “Snow Falling on Cedars” (1999).


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Washington: Cowlitz County

Cowlitz County (pop. 102,410) is north of Clark County, on the Columbia River. Its name comes from a Cowlitz Indian word meaning either “river of shifting sands” or “capturing the medicine spirit.”

The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, which opened in 1987, is in the northern part of the county. Part of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is in the northeastern corner of the county.

The mountain itself is in Skamania County.

The county seat of Cowlitz County is the city of Kelso (pop. 11,925), located near the confluence of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers.

Mural in Kelso

In 1998-99, the slow-moving Aldercrest-Banyon landslide caused the evacuation and condemnation of 127 homes in Kelso.

More than $70 million in damages

Major League pitcher Jason Schmidt starred for Kelso High School before playing professional baseball.

Won 17 for the Giants in 2003

The largest city in Cowlitz County is Longview (pop. 36,648), across the Cowlitz River from Kelso.

Columbia Theatre (1925)

Longview was a planned city, built by timber baron Robert A. Long in the early 1920s to house lumber mill workers for the Long-Bell Lumber Company.

R.A. Long High School (1927)

The Lewis and Clark Bridge (1930) crosses the Columbia River between Longview and Rainier, Oregon.

A cantilever bridge

The Green Day song “Longview” was the fourth track on the band’s third album, “Dookie.” It was Green Day’s debut single.

The “Nutty Narrows Bridge” is a 60-foot squirrel bridge that crosses Olympia Way in downtown Longview. It dates from 1963.

“The World’s Narrowest Bridge”



Washington: Clark County

Clark County (pop. 425,363) is bordered on the west and south by the Columbia River, and on the north by the Lewis River. It is Washington’s fifth-most-populous county.

It is one of 12 Clark counties in the U.S., and one of three (along with Arkansas and Missouri) named for William Clark (1770-1838) of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The county seat of Clark County is the city of Vancouver (pop. 161,791), fourth-largest city in Washington, located across the Columbia from Portland, Oregon.

Clark County Courthouse (1941)

English settlement of the Vancouver area began in 1824 at Fort Vancouver, a fur-trading outpost of the Hudson’s Bay Company. It was named for naval officer and explorer George Vancouver (1757-1798). Vancouver, B.C., was named later in the 19th century.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Vancouver’s population grew rapidly during World War II, when Henry Kaiser built a shipyard that employed as many as 36,000 people.

“Wendy the Welder” sculpture

The Kiggins Theatre opened in downtown Vancouver in 1936. It now has variety of films, concerts, and special events.

Art Deco style

The city of Ridgefield (pop. 4,763), northwest of Vancouver, is the home of the Arndt Prune Dryer (1898), one of the last traditional, farm-built prune dryer building in Washington.

On the National Register of Historic Places

The athletic teams at Ridgefield High School are known as the Spudders, because of the region’s potato-growing heritage.

In the city of Camas (pop. 19,355), east of Vancouver, the sports teams at Camas High School are called the Papermakers, because of its large Georgia-Pacific paper mill.

Richie Sexson, the tallest position player in Major League history (at 6’8″), grew up in the unincorporated community of Brush Prairie, north of Vancouver.

Indian, Brewer, Diamondback, Mariner, Yankee


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Washington: Skamania County

Skamania County (pop. 11,066) is west of Klickitat County, along the Columbia River. “Skamania” comes from a Chinook word meaning “swift waters.”

Much of the county is in Pinchot National Forest.

Mount St. Helens is in the northern part of Skamania County. St. Helens last erupted in 1980, causing massive destruction and the deaths of 57 people.

The summit was reduced from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet elevation.

Today, the mountain is part of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Visitors may drive within four miles of the crater.

Mountain climbing is now allowed.

The county seat of Skamania County is the city of Stevenson (pop. 1,465).

Downtown Stevenson, Big River Grill on left

Stevenson is in the Columbia Gorge – an area that is extremely popular for windsurfing and kiteboarding.

Windsurfing on the Columbia

The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum, in Stevenson, has a variety of exhibits about local history.

Also the world’s largest collection of rosary beads

Beacon Rock State Park is west of Stevenson; the 848-foot-tall rock has long been a landmark on the Columbia River.

One of the world’s largest free-standing monoliths

The Bonneville Lock and Dam, which opened in 1937, crosses the Columbia to Oregon. Built and managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, it is a major producer of electricity.

“Roll on Columbia, roll on”


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Washington: Klickitat County

Klickitat County (pop. 20,318) is south of Yakima County, along the Columbia River. The county was named for the Klickitat tribe of Yakama Native Americans.

The John Day Dam (1971) crosses the Columbia between Klickitat County and Oregon. Lake Umatilla is the reservoir behind the dam, which is the newest dam on the lower Columbia.

The county seat of Klickitat County is the city of Goldendale (pop. 3,407), located in the Klickitat Valley, a few miles north of the Columbia.

Mount Adams, from Goldendale

The Klickitat County Courthouse was built in 1941.

Goldendale Observatory State Park is just north of town. The observatory dates from 1973.

Atop a 2,100-foot hill with clear views

The city of White Salmon (pop. 2,193), on the Columbia, has the slogan “The Land Where the Sun Meets the Rain” because it’s between the wet Cascades and the dry Columbia Basin to the east.

Looking toward Mount Hood, Oregon

The Maryhill Museum of Art, on a bluff above the Columbia, was built in 1914 as a mansion for entrepreneur Samuel Hill. It opened as a museum in 1940.

The collection includes sculptures by Auguste Rodin.

The museum property includes a replica of Stonehenge, built in 1929.


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Washington: Yakima County

Yakima County (pop. 243,231) is south of Kittitas County. It is Washington’s second-largest county in square miles.

The Yakama Indian Reservation makes up about 36 percent of the county.

The county seat of Yakima County is the city of Yakima (pop. 91,067), located on the 214-mile Yakima River, a tributary of the Columbia.

A.E. Larson Building (1931)

William O. Douglas (1898-1980), longest-serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court (36 years), grew up in Yakima and was valedictorian at Yakima High School.

William O. Douglas Federal Building (1912)

The Capitol Theatre in downtown Yakima opened in 1920 as the Mercy Theatre. It is now the home of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

Renovated after a fire in 1975

Author Raymond Carver (1938-1988) grew up in Yakima and graduated from Yakima High School.

Singer Gary Puckett grew up in Yakima and named his band Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (in 1967) for the nearby city of Union Gap.

That’s Gary in the middle.

Farms in the Yakima Valley, irrigated by the Yakima River, raise products such as grapes (about 50 wineries), apples, cherries, and about 75 percent of the hops grown in the U.S.

Yakima Valley hops

Southeast of Yakima, the city of Zillah (pop. 2,964) is the home of the Christian Worship Center – also known as the Church of God-Zillah.

The church’s traveling T-Rex statue

Also in Zillah is the former Teapot Dome Service Station (1922).

No longer in operation

Nearby, the city of Granger (pop. 3,246) has a collection of about 30 cement dinosaur sculptures, scattered around town.

Mount Adams (12,281 feet), second-tallest mountain in Washington, is in western Yakima County.

It hasn’t erupted for 1,400 years.


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Washington: Kittitas County

Kittitas County (pop. 40,915) is south of Chelan County. It’s the only Kittitas County in the U.S.

The county is bordered on the east by the Columbia River and on the west by the Cascades.

The county seat of Kittitas County is the city of Ellensburg (pop. 18,174).

Downtown Ellensburg

Downtown Ellensburg has a statue of a bull sitting on a bench, sculpted in 1986.

Ellensburg is the home of Central Washington University, founded in 1890 as the Washington State Normal School, for the training of teachers.

Barge Hall (1893)

Downtown Ellensburg also has a statue of Washoe, the first chimpanzee to communicate with American Sign Language. Washoe lived at Central Washington University for many years.

Washoe died in 2007 at age 42.

Ellensburg’s annual Dachshunds on Parade event takes place in June.

Up to 250 dogs in attendance

Olmstead Place State Park, east of Ellensburg, is a 217-acre working pioneer farm.

Day use only

Farther east, near the Columbia River, is the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. Just outside the park is the Ginkgo Gem Shop, with its collection of dinosaurs.

No dinosaur fossils have been found in Washington.

West of Ellensburg, in the town of South Cle Elum (pop. 532), the former Milwaukee Road bunkhouse (1909) is now the Iron Horse Inn Bed and Breakfast.

“Cle Elum” comes from a Kittitas word meaning “swift water.”

The former coal company town of Roslyn (pop. 900) was the real-life setting for the TV show “Northern Exposure” from 1990-95. Roslyn stood in for the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska.



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Washington: Chelan County

Chelan County (pop. 72,453), Washington’s third-largest county in square miles, is across the Columbia River from Douglas County. Chelan is pronounced “shuh-LAN.”

Lake Chelan, 50 miles long and about one mile wide, is Washington’s largest natural lake. It has a maximum depth of 1,486 feet – the third-deepest lake in the U.S. (after Crater and Tahoe).

Fed by waters of the Cascades

Bonanza Peak, at 9,516 feet, is Washington’s tallest non-volcanic mountain.

In the Glacier Peak Wilderness

The county seat of Chelan County is the city of Wenatchee (pop. 31,925), located at the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers.

Wenatchee hosts the Washington State Apple Blossom Festival every spring.

Amtrak’s “Empire Builder” train, which runs from Chicago to Seattle, stops at Wenatchee’s Columbia Station.

There’s also a station in Leavenworth.

Downtown Wenatchee has a statue of Guppo the Clown. Guppo has been played, for many years, by Paul K. Pugh, founder of the Wenatchee Youth Circus.

Outside the YMCA

The city of Leavenworth (pop. 1,965), northwest of Wenatchee, was redesigned as a Bavarian village in the 1960s.

The Leavenworth Ski Hill is nearby.

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum – a museum about nutcrackers – opened in 1995.

More than 6,000 nutcrackers

The city of Chelan (pop. 3,890) is at the southeastern tip of Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan Boat Company provides service from Chelan to the community of Stehekin, at the far end of the lake.

The Lady of the Lake

The Ruby Theatre in Chelan opened in 1913, and it’s still showing movies.


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